Tag Archives: Stockport

#Global Selfie Earth Day Today!

22 Apr

Here’s mine:

DSCN2841

 

Kind Of Strange

2 Feb
The villain of the peace

The villain of the peace

Have Toby, Will Travel

Besotted, bewildered, bawling woman is reunited with her unrepentant pooch. He is absolutely fine apart from being a lot scared and a little breathless.  She is still crying, but now in relief.

Have you ever wanted to be a heroine from one of your favourite books?  I always saw myself as Jane Eyre: pragmatic, stoic, capable.  Imagine my shock when I realised I am actually Twilight‘s Bella Swan, the girl who never stops crying.

White Van Man offered me a lift but we were five minutes from home as the crow flies (fifteen minutes as the drip walks), so I refused his kind offer.  White Van Woman, however – who could have been Jane Eyre because she didn’t take any nonsense – insisted on driving Toby and me home.  Her name is Christine and she didn’t mind the interruptions as I talked over her yet again (it seems my manners disappear in emergencies).  I first phoned Pam with the good news and then took a call – to my great surprise – from the Hub, who seemed to know all about our adventure.

Christine dropped me and an excited Toby – I’m in a car!  I can see out of the window!  Why isn’t it open so I can surf? – at home and I opened the door and fell, sobbing, into the Hub’s reassuring arms.

Right knee, battered and bruised

Right knee, battered and bruised

I love coincidences.  Do you?  How’s this for a coincidence?  I had left the Hub asleep in bed when we went out for our walk. About twenty minutes later he was woken by a nice woman named Doreen, who asked if he had two small dogs and if so, his wife had collapsed at the Pyramid roundabout.

Turns out that Doreen used to live just up the road from us and Doreen’s daughter had been in the traffic and seen Toby running through the cars and what she thought was me collapsing (I went down fast, hard and face-first). Luckily, she recognised me even though we have never met – worryingly, from the back (or, more accurately, from the bottom up); I hope it is mostly because she knows the dogs.

Doreen’s daughter phoned her Mum and asked her to drive to our house to tell the Hub what had happened.  I found all of this out later when she returned to check on us.  Doreen even posted a message on Facebook about a lost Yorkie.  I am so grateful.  What kind and thoughtful people.

Left knee, ditto.  Also elbow and thigh, but the pictures are not of this same high quality

Left knee, ditto. Also elbow and thigh, but the pictures are not of this same high quality

The Hub, half asleep and scrambling for socks, decided to look for Toby. He didn’t know about all of the people helping me but he did know I was with Pam and therefore not alone.  He also knew that I would climb out of the hospital bed it was possible I might be in and kill him if he came to see me before finding my dog.  

The Hub could be Jane Eyre as well.  Everyone could except for Miss Sobsalot here.

Pam arrived then with Molly, and we all exchanged stories in the kitchen, while the Hub made tea to aid our recovery.  I’m pretty sure that at one point I said, ‘Excuse me,’ to Pam, and dropped my trousers.  I wanted to show my wounds to the Hub.

The Hub disinfected my knees and elbow (I only discovered the scrape on my left thigh later on) and fed me paracetamol and ibuprofen, because my left arm from hand to shoulder was extremely sore.  He only became concerned when I couldn’t eat a biscuit: he has never known me turn down food in thirty years, come childbirth or illness, apart from one nasty, four-day bout of gastroenteritis.

A day on the couch, a hearty lunch (including the rejected biscuit), some strong painkillers, wonder that the whole incident had lasted no more than twenty minutes (it seemed like three days; it must seem so to you, as well) and reflections on the immense kindness of strangers, and I was soon back to my normal self.  

Which is just as well, because Toby wants a walk…

More Kindness From Stockport Strangers

1 Feb

Image from joyreactor.com

When I left you yesterday I was bumped, scraped, shaking and crying like a tumbled toddler; and Toby was haring down to the business park off the slip road, having avoided every vehicle on an incredibly busy intersection.  I use the word ‘haring’ deliberately – one helpful stranger said that when she first saw him, he was running so fast, she thought he was a rabbit.  If we ever catch him, we’re thinking of entering him into greyhound races as the mechanical hare.

I didn’t know what to do.  A cyclist and several motorists had all stopped to tell me that they’d go after him.  I didn’t know whether to wait where I was for them to come back, or follow my dog…my dogs!  I had two dogs, one of whom I’d recklessly abandoned to chase the other.  I phoned Pam, my walking companion, and she reassured me that she had Molly safe.  We arranged a meeting place so that I could give her my house keys and she could take Molly home via our usual walk, on the off-chance that Toby had run that way.

I think Pam managed to grasp my instructions between my dry heaves and gasps, because she found me, took my keys and gave me the lead.  She carried Molly all the way home because Molly, having been carried so far, refused to walk.  Molly was born to be a handbag dog.  Her only regret in having me as her darling is that my main ambition in life is to have a handbag so empty, pockets will suffice (yes, I am a woman.  I’ve been tested).

Image from mchumour.com

What happened next is a bit of a blur.  I know people stopped to ask if I was okay; to offer help/lifts/comfort; to tell me they’d seen my dog – a big husky, right?  All of these drivers pulled over in rush hour traffic to help a complete stranger in obvious distress.  There was a fireman, a businessman, truckers and more.

At some point, a man who works for one of Stockport Council’s service providers told me to get in his truck and he and his mate would take me to where they had last seen Toby.  His mate was apologetic but adamant that I couldn’t get in because of insurance issues.  No problem, said the first man; he’d walk me down and his mate would follow.  I went with him but I don’t remember getting from one side of the intersection to the other.  I think I was a little dazed.

The kind man then got back in his truck and went off in search of my dog.  I walked in the same direction, calling Toby, still crying and shaking but thinking, somewhere deep in the bowels of my mind, I hope I haven’t put holes in the knees of these pants.  I love them and I’ve only had them a month.  It’s all about the priorities with me.

A blue van appeared and a nice man invited me to get in.  I did.  I can’t believe how easily I was prepared to drive off with total strangers.  I can’t believe how the media have lied to me all these years – no one molested me in any way and every one just wanted to help.  The man took me round the back of the business park, where a man out of a white van told me a bunch of people had tried to catch Toby but he had run off round the back of the buildings and they had all gone after him, some in their cars, some on foot.

He suggested I go one way and he go another, in a circle to try and head him off. He pointed to a woman slowing down in her white van (this was a business area; white vans are de rigeur in business areas) and told me she had trailed my dog.  As I was chatting to her – mostly me saying, ‘Thankyousomucheveryonehasbeensokind’ between sobs and over her as she tried to tell me what had happened, the white van man shouted, ‘There he is!’

Toby was running towards me!  He must have run all the way around the fairly large business park.  I ran towards him, shouting his name, so of course he turned-tail and ran off in the opposite direction.

Desperation focused my mind at last: I yelled, ‘Where’s Hub?  Where’s Hub?’ The Hub is the love of Toby’s life (and vice-versa): he slowed down; he turned; he hesitated; and then reluctantly headed in my direction, not entirely sure he could trust the woman yelling his beloved’s name.

Then he realised it was me.  Not for Toby an enthusiastic gallop into my arms – he turned his back to me, which is his way of saying, Pick me up, please.  

And I did.

The Kindness Of Stockport Strangers

31 Jan

Image from Wikipedia
What happened to Zemanta?  I’m away for one short month and WordPress has changed everything.
I feel a prompt post coming on…

Yo, readers!  I’m back!  Did you miss me?  I told you I’d be back.  Thank you for your patience.

I had a lovely blogging break and feel refreshed and ready to write again…or I did, until yesterday.

Back With A Bang…Literally

I had intended to write my first post-break post tomorrow, on the first (you will note that my break didn’t wash away my propensity for mangled sentences; there’s no break in the world long enough to make that happen), but I had such a day yesterday, I wanted to tell you all about it; and to boast about how kind the people of Stockport are.

The day began in the ordinary way: at 08:35, my Yorkshire Terriers Toby and Molly, my friend Pam and I left my house for our weekly walk along the river Mersey, on the Pennine Way.  It takes us into the heart of Stockport, under the M60 motorway, but away from roads, so it’s safe to let the dogs off the lead.

We’d been out about fifteen minutes and Toby was a little way off, investigating smells.  Have you ever walked Yorkshire Terriers? They were bred as ratters. Try throwing a ball – they’ll get halfway to where it lands and be distracted by a smell, à la Doug and squirrel in Up, and that will be that for the game of Fetch as far as a Yorkie is concerned.

Toby was nose-deep (probably in something disgusting), when his body language changed and he realised he was being stared at intensely by a large dog which had come up behind us, a husky-type dog.  The husky charged, scenting prey. Toby legged it.  He ran up the path, under the subway and followed the path until it turned left.

I acted instinctively, forgot I was fifty and charged after him, yelling his name in what was intended as a command but which came out as a whiny beg.  Fortunately, Pam had the presence of mind to grab Molly before she ran after me running after the husky running after Toby.  We must have been quite a sight, with the husky owner running after me running after the husky running after Toby…who ran into rush hour traffic.

I rounded the corner as he dashed across the far four lanes.  The traffic in the two lanes closest to me had stopped so I belted over to the other pavement and suddenly realised I was running downhill, faster than I’ve ever run before, and I would very shortly be crashing face-first to the ground.

And lo, it came to pass.  My left hand must have taken the impact because it hurt-hurt-hurts today, up my arm to my shoulder.  I thought at first I had sprained it and I’m lucky not to have broken it, such was my momentum.  It is worth the pain because my face merely bounced off the pavement, leaving no scratches or bumps, just temporary indentations where my glasses had tried to give me eyes in the back of my head.

A car pulled up, and another, I think.  Someone helped me stand, a cyclist chased off after Toby, who was running the wrong way through the cars on a busy intersection.

Image from webaviation.co.uk 

See the triangle of grass above the .co.uk?  I had crossed the diagonal red path above it and was now prostrate on the path to its left.  Toby was running down the slip road in front of the Pyramid, which has a large white truck going one way and a yellow van going the other.

And I will stop there for today, for two reasons:

1. Always leave them wanting more and

2. My arm hurts. Which leads to three:

3. Always leave them feeling sorry for you: it may result in chocolate.

Monday Musings

16 Sep

A bits ‘n’ pieces post for you today.

Surviving

Lead and Gold character classes were designed ...

Lead and Gold character classes were designed from American frontier archetypes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)   That’s me, second right

The Hub managed to be in my good and bad books at the same time yesterday. He told me I’d have made a great frontierswoman, getting stuck in and getting on with surviving.  The kind of woman he likes.

For someone who hates cooking, housework, needlework and any job considered ‘female’ back then, it was a rare compliment indeed.  Then he said, ‘You’d have been great; but you’d have complained a lot.’

I should have told him that, in my imaginary past life as a Woman Out West (WOW), I married the wealthy rancher and let other women do the female work, with him as the mop.

That’s what I call surviving.

Revising

I met the woman who connected me to the man who organised for me to read at Walthew House in church yesterday.

Discussing how the poetry reading had gone, she told me that on that particular Tuesday, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clinic was running and the queue had spilled into the hall, as it sometimes does.

So they weren’t carers being rude; they were people who couldn’t hear me and presumably didn’t know they were talking over me.

I feel better now I have revised my earlier position.  Perhaps I should send them the book.

Surmising

I ran two writing workshops on Saturday, at the church fun day.   If I add the total number of participants at the start of each workshop to the total number of those who came in late, it adds up to a total of Big Fat Zero.

I had a sign outside my gazebo:

Signwriting must be one of them thar femin-ine skills, 'cos it ain't one o' mine

Signwriting must be one of them thar femin-ine skills, ‘cos it ain’t one o’ mine

I watched as people walked towards me, began to read the sign, got as far as WRITERS/WORKSHOPS and then veered rapidly off at an angle before I could collar them.   Not one person in four hours expressed an interest in writing or workshops.

It went from exasperating to embarrassing to I couldn’t stop laughing about it.

Five children wandered in at different times; all went away happy with their free notebook and pen; three also left with poems they’d just written.  It was worth being there for that alone.  I also chattered to a lady who caught me as I was leaving (covered in shame).  She knew about Stockport Writers but had never joined us; I hope I convinced her to come along to our next meeting.

Your faith in me is flattering but, I surmise on this evidence, unjustified.  I thank you anyway.  As a reward, have the smile that Stockport’s non-writers didn’t want:   :D

Apologising

It’s been another busy week at Tilly Bud Towers so, of course, it was the blog wot give (something had to).

I promise to try and put aside tomorrow to reply to your comments and return your visits.

Sorry.  Again.  I mean it.  No, really; I do.

Surprising

There’s a lion loose in Stockport!

My friend Pam and I came across it while out on a walk with the dogs.  

Pam was brave enough to stop and take a photograph:

IMAG1612

Happy Monday!

If You’re In Stockport Today, Join Us

14 Sep

Come to St Matthew’s Fun Day!

I’ll be running a poetry workshop on behalf of Stockport Writers;
it’s okay if you pretend not to see me.

image of fun day poster

 

Poetry Reading At Walthew House

11 Sep
Here's how I could have reacted

Here’s how I could have reacted

I promised to tell you about the poetry reading I gave.  It was an interesting experience.  I learned how to ignore people, and that’s always good; I’ll try doing it to the Hub.

There is a place called Walthew House here in Stockport,  It supports people with sight and hearing problems.  They asked me to do a reading at one of their lunch groups.  After some discussion over the phone with Ben, the group organiser, we decided to go with my Apartheid collection.  I spent an evening preparing for the reading and a month worrying about it.

I shouldn’t have.  The group was lovely: warm, friendly, inquiring.

It was the Others…

The lunch group sat at the front of the hall; the Others sat at the back.  And talked.  And talked and talked and talked.  They talked over light poems, dark poems, black and white poems, poems about witchdoctors’ penises and poems about death, murder, bombs and violence (a lot of those).

Fortunately, I had a microphone.  Unfortunately, I also had a folder and needed to turn pages regularly.  Ben had provided a table but I like to stand when I read, to project.  After some serious folder wobbles I had to put it on the table and look down at what I was reading.  Looking down while reading aloud is a dreadful way to perform, but I figured the one bunch couldn’t see me and the Others didn’t care to.  I tuned the Others out and earned my free lunch over the fifty minutes I wittered on about me and my life and the male genitalia I have met.

Here's how I did react

Here’s how I did react

I invited questions and there were quite a few from the lunch group.  We talked more over lunch.  The Others did not eat.  I think they may have been the people who brought the lunch group to Walthew House.  Their attitude appeared to be, if poetry be the food of driving, talk on.

Despite my complaints, I enjoyed the experience. The group was warm and welcoming and the microphone was on full volume.  I’m going back in October.

Now I have to prepare for Saturday: I’m running two poetry workshops at my church Fun Day.  No microphones; no lunch; and an open gazebo.  I must be mad.

Here's how my audience reacted

Here’s how my audience reacted

Balls Plays Tooth

13 Jul

Accidentally took a week off blogging

It wasn’t intentional; the week just got away from me:

Saturday

That was intentional.  I didn’t feel well and the sun was shining so I did the obvious thing and stayed indoors watching TV all day.

Sunday

Church, followed by lunch and Andy Murray winning Wimbledon – the first British man to win in 77 years, in case you hadn’t heard (and if you hadn’t heard, you are obviously not from round these parts).

The last Brit male was Fred Perry, from right here in Stockport!  He has at least one street and a council building named after him.  Wonder what Andy Murray will get?  A knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List, probably, because you know how governments love to ride the tennis balls of popularity.

Fred Perry House, Stockport

Incidentally, here’s my prediction for the next male British Wimbledon winner: I don’t know if he’s even been born yet, but I suspect he will have a four-letter shortened first name and a double ‘r’ and a ‘y’ in his name.  There’s clearly a pattern at work.

Monday

Morning: A visit from my lovely friend Alison (news of why she’s lovely will be revealed later in my week).

Afternoon: Painted the garden fence to hide its age.   Kind of like a make-up-plastered granny; or Joan Collins.

Evening: Poetry at Write Out Loud.  Three of us turned up.  The rest were probably still celebrating Andy’s win.

Wimbledon Champion 188/365 2013

Wimbledon Champion 188/365 2013 (Photo credit: Gabludlow)

Tuesday

Cleaning prep for weekend guests i.e. more telly.

Stacks Image 209

Wednesday

Free ticket from one old lady at church to see the Chester Mystery Plays – FABULOUS!

The plays are staged every five years, with a cast and crew of about 400 people, almost all amateurs.  Here’s a link if you’re interested to see how plays written in medieval times are still relevant today – I’m thinking Middle East conflict and homelessness, to begin with.

Free dinner from another old lady, who drove me there at just fifty miles an hour (on the motorway), so we had to leave at four and arrived back at midnight; and who bought us a meal at Bella Italia.

My church has the best old ladies in the world!

Dentist Humor

Dentist Humor (Photo credit: MTSOfan)

Thursday

To the dentist in the morning, for an hour of power saws and choking on pink putty.  Temporary crown is now in place.  When I got home the Hub kissed my head; said, You have fluff in your hair; and removed what was actually a piece of my tooth.  Eww!  I saw the bits flying at the time but I thought I had caught them all.

In the afternoon I went shopping so I could feed my weekend guests.

Friday

was a mad rush.  I gave the house a proper bottoming before collapsing into the shower at 1:30 and we were out of the house by two.  The Hub dropped me off at Friend Alison’s, on the way to collect the guests from the airport.

The guests are a nice German couple who love to spot planes as much as the Hub does.  They come over each year for the Manchester Airport aviation fair; and travel all over the world to take photographs of planes.  The Hub has traded with them online (geeks have their own universe) and became friendly without meeting them.  When he heard they were coming for this weekend’s fair, he invited them to stay.

It is the first time I have ever had guests in my home and I wasn’t here to welcome them (of which more anon), but I did prepare a lasagne which the Hub just had to bung in the oven.

The more anon, or why Alison is lovely: I feel like a celebrity!  My 50th birthday is in September but the celebrations started yesterday.  Just as famous people with more money than social conscience party for a week or so when they turn a year older, so my celebrations will take place over two months.

First up: Friend Alison took me into Manchester last night for dinner and a show. The show was Ghost and the dinner was yummy.  We had to go now because it isn’t on in September.  The special effects and staging were great; there were some necessary deviations from the movie but they worked; Oda Mae Brown was funny and, bizarrely, played by an actress named Wendy Mae Brown.  How weird is that?

Ghost the Musical

Ghost the Musical (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next up: The Hub wants to send me away.  No surprise there, of course; but he says that as it’s for my birthday, I can come home again.  He is trying to arrange a flight to any of my foreign friends who live in a country accessible by budget airline.  He’s not having much luck, but that’s okay: I’d settle for a day out in London, visiting the Globe Theatre.  The Hub thinks that’s a terrible waste of money, but he’s never had much time for my spiritual home.

That was my week, and I’m sure you understand why I haven’t been around much.

Don’t expect me to be around much next week, either: I’ll be sleeping.

 

Bring Me Sunshine

26 Apr

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is Sunshine.  Here in Stockport we don’t get much sunshine, being the English equivalent of Twilight‘s town of Forks, minus the pretty vampires.  So, just rain, then.

We have to make our own sunshine, so here you go – some fake sunshine, courtesy of You Tube:

Now that you are as depressed as we Stopfordians usually feel, here’s something that actually works like sunshine is supposed to:

Have a great weekend, flowers!

Big Sunflower

Big Sunflower (Photo credit: eggheadsherpa)

How to have fun in spite of rain:

 

Cold Calling An Author Can Sometimes Pay Off

24 Apr

DSCN1147

I once acted out of character and it paid off.

Let me explain: I am quite shy.  No, really.

It is easy to be gregarious on (I was going to say ‘paper’ but I guess technically it’s) plastic; much harder in real life when the person you are talking to is not behind a monitor six thousand miles away going ‘Huh? Wazzsheonabout?’ but standing right in front of you, rictus grin plastered on face, thinking, ‘Huh? Wazzsheonabout?’

I’m rubbish at cold calling; at asking strangers for something.  I once had a job as a Carpet Cleaning Saleswoman (it was the early Eighties; I wasn’t a person then). I had to go door-to-door to tell people that they needed me because their carpets were dirty.  All for an alleged weekly wage of £75.

I was so bad at cold calling and made so few sales (ten-day total sales: zero), they put me on commission at the end of the first week (it was the early Eighties; I had no rights that I knew of, being eighteen and stupid).  In one month I earned a grand total of £9.

If they had only asked me to write to the customers, it might have been a different story.  As this one is turning out to be, because it’s about my writing group.  No, really.

DSCN1152

I saw an article in our local paper about a local writer who had just published her third book –  actually, it was her second book, although she has written her third book; the reporter got it wrong – may his rugs remain forever filthy – despite the author sending him the details in cold hard ether.  Fortunately, I didn’t know that at the time, or this might have been a different story (not really, but repetition is a good comedy device and I’m feeling facetious today, even a little lightheaded, not having blogged at you for five days).

I read in the Stockport Express that author Allie Cresswell had not only published her third book [not], but she lived in Stockport and had a website.  I moseyed on over to her website by way of dinner, dessert, crisps and a bar of chocolate, and thought she looked friendly enough, so I girded up my now ample loins and popped off an email.

That’s the bit that was out of character – I cold called an author.  Yo!  I said, I belong to Stockport Writers.  We have no money; will you come and talk to us for free?

Yes, she replied; I’d love to.  I’m pretty sure my charm and erudition won her over.

Emails were exchanged; details were organised (please run the whole session, however you like, but don’t arrive before eleven because the Art Gallery won’t let us in until then because of insurance issues, I think); cake purchased in honour of our guest.  The great day arrived…

DSCN1153All joking aside, it was a great day.   Warm and friendly, Allie told us a bit about herself (passing off the sloppy journalist’s carelessness as just one of those things…so magnanimous*), her writing background and her career. Then she read from one of her books – we enjoyed it so much, we asked for more.  After a break for tea and cake (these loins won’t amplify themselves, you know), Allie set us a writing exercise, which had everyone interested and animated.  To keep things fresh, we do rotate the chair each month, as in, a different person chairs each month’s meeting; we don’t sit in swivel chairs and circulate stationarily (the gallery staff keep those chairs to themselves; we can’t complain because they let us use the space for free).  To have someone entirely new set the prompt made us all a little giddy, and produced some wonderful freewriting.

*If I appear to be losing it a little here, it’s because I am.  Remember my magnum opus (I Went To London To Be On Telly And Get Free Stuff)?  It might have turned out all right in the end, but that sloppy – and somewhat vindictive – journalism has made me over-sensitive.  Besides, that Stockport Express journalist didn’t publicise our guest speaker like I asked him to in my second – and last – out of character cold calling email.  May his rugs remain forever filthy.

DSCN1158

Allie brought some of her books and I felt, having strong-armed her into coming along, that I ought to buy at least one of the novels, but I didn’t have enough money on me.   Fortunately, she sells them for Kindle, and I was able to buy two for less than the price of one hard copy.   Even more of a bargain, the Amazon account is hooked up to the Hub’s credit card and not mine so, technically, I got them for nothing.  And I had cake!  What a great day.  Our guest also got a booking, from one of our writers who attends another group, so it was a win-win situation.

Now I come to the reason why I haven’t blogged for five days: I started one of the books, Relative Strangers.  As a pretty woman might say, big mistake; huge. You should see the state of my house – I’ve done no housework because all I wanted to do was read; and the dogs aren’t talking to me.

relative strangers book cover small

The book explores the dynamics of family life by gathering together one extended family in a large house for one week.

At first, I was confused by the sheer number of characters but I soon worked out who was married to whom and had which children and which in-laws and which rooms and cars and grievances and grudges.  The book is packed with incident and was a really interesting and fun read, but not fun in the way – I hope – this post is fun.  It was a fascinating exploration of relationships: the characters, for the most part, were neither good nor bad, but human, with foibles and faults like we all have.

The ending surprised me.  And that’s all I’ll say, because I don’t want to give anything away.  If you like surprises, don’t read the blurb on the website because it tells you in which direction the ending heads.

There were more typos than I usually approve of but I let them pass because I enjoyed the book so much.  I only mention them because I want this to be a balanced critique.  Definitely recommended.  You can trust me; it’s not like I’m a journalist (sorry, Kateshreswdaytheexception).

You can find Allie’s website here; and her books on Amazon here; and here. They are available on Amazon.com as well as the UK site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post because you may not get another for at least the next five days: I have her other book to read.

 

I Was Accidentally On Telly

8 Mar
Why is it that the vast majority of sycamores ...

Why is it that the vast majority of sycamores cannot grasp even the most basic economic principles? (Photo credit: one percent for the planet)

Many years ago, that was; I’m not referring to my most recent appearance, in the audience of the first leaders’ debate during the 2010 General Election campaign: blink and you missed me.

I was reminded of my week on telly by yesterday’s prompt about a surreal experience.  It’s quite a long story so go and have your wee first.

I’m a big fan of saving the planet.  I’m in favour of breathable air, water for all and not buying a new thing until the old thing dies, is dismantled and the parts used for shelves, dusters and magazine holders.  My tea caddies are old coffee jars, so I practise what I preach.

In 2001 Stockport council sent out questionnaires asking what residents did in the way of being green.  I told them.  In detail.

Reserved: Hybrid vehicles only

Reserved: Hybrid vehicles only (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

A couple of months later they contacted me and asked if our family would be willing to take part in their upcoming Cleaner, Greener campaign.  ‘Sure,’ I said.  We were interviewed and photographed for a brochure and invited to the campaign’s launch at the art gallery in January 2002.  I wore a dressy frock purchased in a charity shop for £3; the boys wore hand-me-downs and the Hub a favourite old jacket. We looked very smart when we were presented as Stockport’s Greenest Family.

I was interviewed for Radio Manchester or something like that.  I’ll be honest, I was flattered but incoherent.  When the producer asked what kind of thing I do to save the planet, I babbled on about washing on cold and folding wet washing and only ironing one side, but not necessarily in that order and interspersed with more than the necessary number of ums, ahs and ers.  I can still see her resigned smile and hear the click of the delete button as I turned away.

Material Wealth. Fear of Loss

Material Wealth. Fear of Loss (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

There was a small article in the Stockport Express and that, I thought, was that.  We’d had the fun of a cultural night out at the art gallery.  So cultural, I thought the refreshments were a modern art display until the guests attacked them. We ate our fill, drank expensive swill (Cleaner, Greener but not Cheaper, Cheaper) went home and thought nothing more of it.  

Until the day the phone rang and I had a moment of entelechy.

You know what?  This is such a long story, I think I’ll leave it there for now. More tomorrow!

*

Yesterday’s word was, of course dacnomania:  an obsession with killing, often by biting.  That explains my Twilight fixation.

RIP PC Gareth Francis

20 Jan

Read the full story

A policeman was murdered in Stockport last night.  PC Gareth Francis was on his way home from a night out with friends when he was attacked on Castle Street, Edgeley.  He died in hospital.  Two men have been arrested.

We shop on Castle Street all the time.  It is just up the road from my church.  I have been on it at night, on an evening out with friends.

I was desperate to leave South Africa in 1996 because of the violence.  We heard many terrible stories while we lived there, and witnessed violence ourselves, upon occasion.  I always thought it could happen to one of us while we lived there.

I never expected it to happen so close to home, here in the UK.  We have a lot of petty crime but we feel safe walking the streets.

It is dreadful to think of that young man, a man who was valuable in his community, who made a difference, being killed as he walked home.

Such a tragic waste.

 

My Morning So Far

19 Jan

Alarm clocks, Glee, breakfast, snow, dogs

Spud had to be up at six-thirty this morning, to catch an early bus to school for a rehearsal of The Bacchae, in which he’s playing The Messenger, 1970s’ style. He’s in two plays in two months; he obviously wants to catch up on the five years he wasn’t performing.

He took my alarm clock and set his phone alarm, as he doesn’t need me to get him up on a Saturday.  Of course I woke about six and lay in bed for forty-five minutes, waiting for him to get up.  I don’t want to be a mollycoddling mummy, believing that children should take responsibility for themselves at some point, especially on Saturdays but, by 6:46 I could stand it no longer and I jumped out of bed to harry him along.  I walked in on him as he was changing.

Oops, I did it again, as Rachel sang in Episode 2, Series 4 of Glee.  I snuggled on the couch under my Vivquilt, catching up on some TV, eating cereal and sipping hot tea while Spud glowered around me.  I don’t envy him, going out in the dark and cold and snow.  There’s something to be said for letting your kids grow up – bad weather is no longer to be feared every Monday to Friday, 08:30-09:00 and 15:00-15:30 in term time.

We’ve had a fair bit of snow in Stockport but it’s not worthy of the name.  It has been constant but fine, useless for playing in.  Even the dogs showed no interest and they usually love snow.  On our walk yesterday I had to drag Molly.  It was like pulling a hairy sled.

I’ll probably leave her at home today and just walk Toby.  She is snuggled under a fleecy blanket on the couch and I don’t expect to see her until lunch time.

It has started snowing again.  I think I’ll join her.  Toby can walk himself; it’s Saturday.

 

Three Things

15 Nov

Tragedy by Steps at Merseyway Xmas lights last night

When I read this on Twitter today about my home town, I thought, ‘Oh no!’

They even had video:

I just read this on Facebook:

Stalking is when two people go for a long romantic walk but only one of them knows about it.

A couple of weeks ago, we received a reminder card through the post that Toby and Molly were due to have their booster jabs.  There was also an offer to download a money-off coupon.  The Hub phoned the vet, made the appointment, and off we went yesterday.

They had no record of our appointment but fitted us in anyway.  Turns out Toby didn’t have his booster last year because, at the time we took the dogs, his lesions had returned, he needed antibiotics and he couldn’t have the booster at the same time.  He was injected several times at several appointments and we had thought as we cried into our wallets that one of those was his booster jab.  

Never mind – at least we had the money off coupons to make it a little easier this time.

No, we didn’t.  The coupons weren’t valid for this particular branch.  

We came away unimpressed yesterday – not only had our beloved dog been unprotected for a year, he needed to start a whole new course of immunisations at a boosted price, they wouldn’t accept our coupons and they hadn’t even known we were going to turn up despite the Hub making the appointment a week earlier.

When we got home there was a message on the answering machine:

Hello!  This is anonymous from another vet’s.  Toby and Molly missed their appointment for their boosters today.  If you would like to make another appointment, please call back on number given.

The Hub had made the appointment and downloaded the coupons for one vet’s practice, but we had visited another.

 

I’m A Tad Grumpy

31 Oct

No TV cop shows were spoiled in the making of this post.

English: Stepping Hill Hospital Viewed from th...

English: Stepping Hill Hospital Viewed from the railway bridge on Bramhall Moor Road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia  © Gerald England)

 

The dreaded ‘T’ word has been deployed – I think you know that means I’m seriously put out.

I sat at the computer for all of five minutes this morning.  The stupid chair and rotten cramped desk made my legs ache just by looking at them.  I decided to catch up with one of my favourite cop shows instead.  A character I like died saving a character I dislike.  Great.

By this time it was nine o’clock so the doctor’s surgery was open.  I waited all day yesterday and heard nothing.  No wonder my legs ache – they’ve been supporting an over-extended bladder for 24 hours.

I phoned.  Scary Receptionist wasn’t there but she had passed the details on to Uninterested Assistant Practice Manager, who ‘hadn’t gotten around to phoning’ me yet.  UAPM told me it was the Trust’s fault: they changed the ‘boundaries’ of who could have the flu jab so, even though the NHS literature says everyone with a neurological condition can have it, they mean everyone with a neurological condition who the local Trust says can have it.  I can try phoning again in early December to see if they’ve got any jabs left, but I’m not holding my breath (except to count to ten while I remember I’m supposed to love everyone, even those who work at my local doctor’s surgery).

My only comfort is that the Hub will get the flu which, because of his weak nervous system, will turn to pneumonia, causing him to be hospitalised, ruining our Christmas and costing the NHS a thousand times more in ICU fees than it would have if they’d given him the absolutely vital flu jab in the first place.

Strangely, the Hub doesn’t find that the least bit comforting, but what does he know?  He’s sick.  He is still not fully recovered from his bug and it’s been more than two weeks.  He is weak and has hardly been out of bed, never mind the house.  He went out on Sunday for thirty minutes and that knocked him flat. He’s thinking about trying to get up again today.

All joking aside, if that’s what a bug can do to him, imagine how the flu could affect him.  No wonder I’m grumpy.  I don’t want Christmas ruined.

After the waste of time that was my phone call to the doctor’s, I tried going back onto the computer to complain about it to you.  No internet for over an hour.

‘Tad’ doesn’t even begin to describe my mood today.  Well, it wouldn’t, would it? It’s a noun, not an adjective.

I would like to make one thing clear: I might complain and the Hub might get really sick but the NHS is still wonderful and one of the best healthcare systems in the world – and free, most of the time.  If the Hub does get pneumonia, they will care for him and it will cost us nothing.  So it won’t bite into my Christmas Present Budget.  There’s always a silver lining.

We have an excellent hospital in Stockport.  You may have heard of it, it was in the news: many patients were poisoned last year by a member of staff.

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